SOS Stretches are designed to be done in the moment—when you need them most. These super quick routines will relieve tension and tightness, and ease sore muscles from whatever activity you’re taking part in. In today’s break from gaming routine, you’ll be:
Stretching your: Wrists, forearms, shoulders, neck, back, legs, and hips
You can do this: Wearing whatever clothes you have on, in any location, as long as you have room to stand up.
When you’re in a gaming marathon, minutes can bleed into hours, and the hours can rack up fast too. Though you may not notice it when you’re engrossed in your screen, sitting for that long can cause your muscles to tighten up, leading to a sore, achy feeling that can suck the joy out of your latest endeavor.
According to a 2022 review published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, video gaming can commonly lead to muscle pain or discomfort, particularly in the neck, back, shoulders, and hands. There are likely a couple reasons at play, the scientists believe—a combination of time spent continuously sitting and the repetitive movements of the upper limbs. But there are things you can do to feel better without having to unplug for the day.
“Stretching and movement can help counteract this by increasing blood flow, reducing tension in the muscles, and giving the eyes a break from screen time,” Nikki Pebbles, MS, CPT, founder of Rock Your Body Online, tells SELF. That’s why Pebbles created the four-move gaming stretch routine below that video gamers can use to loosen up tightness in their upper body, lower body, and hands. Though you could do the first three stretches sitting or standing, Pebbles recommends taking this time to stand up, move around, and get the blood flowing before you get into the stretch.
In fact, taking a few minutes every hour to stretch your body—this routine takes nine minutes, but one round takes just three—can make a day of gaming feel that much more pleasant, Pebbles says. “This can prevent any discomfort from setting in.”
One more thing: While you’re doing this routine, make sure to give your eyes a break too. Try to focus on something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds to let your eye-focusing muscles relax.
- Complete each move for 30 seconds. After all 4 moves are done, repeat the circuit for 3 rounds total. This will take about 9 minutes.
Demoing the moves below is Nikki Pebbles, a special populations personal trainer in New York City.